January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Many people don’t know much about their thyroid, but it plays a huge role in regulating the body and keeping them healthy. Thyroid Awareness Month is intended to educate the public about this small but crucial gland, what it does, and to make sure that it is functioning properly.
What is a thyroid and why is it important?
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that produces hormones, which influence how all other cells, tissues, and organ function. These hormones play an important role, in regulating body temperature, aiding growth and development, heart rate, body weight, and ultimately affecting metabolism.
It is vital to get the thyroid examined if any changes are detected. Dysfunction occurs when the thyroid either overproduces (Hyperthyroidism) or under produces (Hypothyroidism) the thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, a racing heart, hair loss, and anxiety. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, muscle weakness, and fatigue. In women, thyroid problems can affect fertility. Additionally, thyroid cancer affects about 47,000 Americans per year. Thyroid cancer can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment.
Caring for your thyroid
Symptoms can vary widely and diagnosis can be difficult. If you notice any changes in the thyroid, such as swelling, pain, or feeling a lump, it is essential to have it examined by a medical professional right away. Thyroid conditions often worsen the longer they go without treatment and must be attended to immediately. If a patient is concerned about their thyroid, a healthcare professional can perform a thyroid exam which may include a blood test, and feel for abnormalities, to provide the best course of action for treatment. Thyroid problems are more common in women; one in eight women will develop a thyroid problem in her lifetime.
If you begin to exhibit symptoms, you should visit your primary care physician to have your thyroid checked and begin treatment immediately. Symptoms may include:
- Change in appetite
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Constant mood swings
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
Thyroid Exams in Norwalk, CT
Thyroid Awareness month is a great time to make sure your thyroid is healthy and working properly. AFC Urgent Care Norwalk is here for you and your family 7 days a week, with hours into the evening for your convenience. There is no appointment needed at our walk-in clinic, and most major insurance plans are accepted. Give us a call at 203-845-9100 with questions.